Here you can find the descriptions of all the different sessions in the conference. Final schedule and programme will be announced later.

If you want to submit an abstract for one of the sessions, you can find more information on that on the Call for Abstracts page!
Sessions 1-4

It is necessary to address the broader societal dimensions of energy transitions because unwanted outcomes are likely to appear even if the main goal is a more sustainable future. We need to be able to anticipate and prepare for those, as they carry a possibility of hindering or stagnating transitions altogether. 

Description: Sustainability transitions are enacted from various viewpoints with keen political and economic support required. They are to be studied as value-laden and uncertain with potential to change the world. The systemic transformations to sustainable futures must cover all aspects of society, because while striving for something better, unintended outcomes may appear and disrupt the transition. One such important phenomenon deals with the possible security implications of the low-carbon energy transition. In their broader sense, they have received little attention in sustainability transition research. In the context of energy provision, especially the literature on the geopolitics of renewables and the global political economy of energy transformation have started to fill this research gap. To give an example, a single electric vehicle requires more natural resources in its production phase than a conventional combustion engine. Those resources are either scarce, have controlled access, or both, with an additional shadow of inhumane production. Yet, even if humane conditions and access are provided, there are still conflicts left to foresee or solve, such as with local population or wider ecological damages. Further, broader security implications extending national borders and ranging from justice and equality between peoples and societies, require consideration in order to ensure a more sustainable transition.  

We invite authors to submit abstracts addressing the topics that connect the (research) streams of sustainability transitions and security, defence, just transitions, equity or social justice in either regional, national or global scope. In this session, we hope to cover broader theoretical thinking around, for instance, securitisation and depoliticization, but also the empirical knowledge around businesses as providers of security of supply through their value chains, and governance around the transitions.

Conveners: Marja Helena Sivonen (Finnish Environment Institute and Tampere University), Sakari Höysniemi (Aleksanteri Institute and University of Helsinki), Emma Hakala (Finnish Institute of International Affairs)


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This session discusses a range of approaches for exploring and addressing novel solutions for sustainability transformation and innovation in food systems and the role of research in promoting innovation. 

Description: Technologies, systemic innovations, and research are critical for the sustainable transformation of the food system. All these elements have a deep impact on food production, land use, GHG emissions, diets, and waste management. Research, in particular, plays a vital role in charting a positive direction for global food security, nutrition, and health. Through systemic, creative, and holistic approaches, research has the potential to raise awareness and bring about comprehensive change in attitudes, political thought, and action. 

This session discusses a range of approaches for exploring and addressing novel solutions for sustainability transformation and innovation in food systems and the role of research in promoting innovation. It acknowledges that actors and agencies in the agricultural and food value chains must rethink innovations and reinvent governance and procedures at all scales, both locally and globally, to coordinate overarching reforms of their socio-technical and socio-ecological systems. The examination of actors in the value chains necessitates an inclusive look and involvement of smallholders, industry, and interest organisations with diverse backgrounds – also beyond the usual suspects. Therefore, the session aims to answer the following questions, amongst others: What are the challenges and opportunities faced by the agricultural and food value chain actors to implement the sustainability transformation? How can local and regional actors seek new solutions with a focus on the sustainability of the food system? What is the role of research and what are the mechanisms in promoting innovations for sustainable food system transformations? 

Sustainable food system transformation calls for innovation and collaboration across actors and regions to co-create and implement novel solutions in different parts of the world. The role of research in producing knowledge and solutions is unarguable, but the models and mechanisms that (1) bridge together researchers across disciplines and further (2) integrate research into practical, technological, social, and organisational innovations need to be better explored. Such mechanisms also relate - on one side - to policy processes that should promote systemic approaches in knowledge production and communication, and on the other side, to funding models that should support research in being problem-based and beneficial to society. The session includes case studies from the global South and North, encompassing both quantitative and qualitative empirical research and original theoretical contributions. 

Conveners: Silvia Gaiani (Ruralia Institute, University of Helsinki), Erja Kettunen (University of Turku), Guenwoo Lee (Japan International Center for Agricultural Sciences (JIRCAS)), Hanna Martin (University of Gothenburg), Nadja Nordling (Tampere University), Ayu Pratiwi (University of Turku)


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Non-human animals are often dismissed or disregarded in sustainability discussions. We argue that it is important to include them for at least two reasons: to make their suffering and rights visible and also to remind discussants that humans are also animals. We hope this session will also encourage collaboration among scholars interested in non-human animals and sustainability.  

Description: Today over 65 billion farmed animals are slaughtered annually to produce food and clothes (Allievi et al., 2015). In turn, the exponential increase of both human beings and farmed animals is a major driver of the decline and extinction of wild animal species (Díaz et al., 2019). Moreover, countless other wild animals experience various degrees of harm due to human activities. Yet, the plight of non-human animals is rarely explicitly discussed in the context of sustainable development (cf. Vinnari & Vinnari, 2014, in press). Wild non-human animals, plants, bacteria, archaea, waterways, and the atmosphere are all treated as a monolith most often labelled as ’environment’ or ‘nature’, while farmed animals hover between society and the environment. Such an ontology is problematic as it relegates domesticated animals to an existential limbo between society and the environment, while grouping wild animals together with inanimate beings such as rocks and rivers (see Tovey, 2003).  

Against this background, the purpose of this parallel session is to bring together scholars interested in advancing the inclusion of non-human animals in the definition of sustainability as well as in sustainability transformations. We are open to both conceptual and empirical papers from various disciplines. 

Conveners: Markus Vinnari (University of Helsinki) & Eija Vinnari (Tampere University)


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This session explores the challenges of modelling sustainability transformations from the perspective of social-ecological systems. The diversity of methods, problems, and possible solutions in modelling transformations are explored and discussed interactively with the audience.

Description: Designing and guiding systemic sustainability transformations requires an in-depth understanding on how transformative change emerges from complex, adaptive interactions between human actors, institutions and ecosystem dynamics. Social-ecological system (SES) models, both simulation models and models that statistically describe SES structures, have proven to provide a powerful approach for investigating the nature and outcomes of human-environment interactions, including identification and testing of key leverage points at various scales. Diverse values and worldviews can be included in SES models.

Envisioning sustainability solutions necessitates broadening the use of SES models and strengthening the engagement between SES modelers, stakeholders and local communities. The predictive models of the COVID-19 pandemic and the successful use of economic and ecological models in society provide robust evidence on how modelling can be utilized in addressing local and global challenges.

Modeling transformations in SES is challenging and requires pushing modeling frontiers. This session collates the current knowledge of modeling approaches that account for human-environment connections. The session emphasizes the future directions of SES models and brings together people across different disciplines to discuss the development needs of SES modelling approaches. In  doing so, the state of the art for modelling the complexity of SES interconnections is presented whilst exploring the key research questions related to systemic sustainability transformations.

This session focuses on the following conference themes:

  • How can different approaches that consider human and non-human relations such as planetary well-being foster systemic transformation to a sustainable future?  
  • How to formulate and enact interventions focusing on deep leverage points of systemic change?
  • How to build better agency among different societal actors (including citizens and communities) toward acting for change, and especially how to promote inclusion and engage with marginalised groups in the change processes?
  • How can sustainability design, different types of knowledge production and ways of knowing be integrated especially in the field of just transitions? 

Conveners: Johanna Yletyinen (University of Jyväskylä), Juan Carlos Rocha (Stockholm Resilience centre)


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Sessions 5-9

The session focuses on what kind of roles law and legal governance perform in sustainable transitions in the climate, energy and environmental systems.  

Description: Sustainability science and the global science panels (IPCC and IPBES) call for a rapid systemic transformation to sustainability. This overarching goal will require numerable smaller technological, social and governance innovations and transitions to be realised. Law is instrumental in driving transitions and the broader transformation, but law also establishes boundary conditions for such a change. While these broad-brush dynamics are well-understood, there is a need for further analysis, insight and examples of the various roles law and legal governance play in sustainability transitions and transformation. To fill this gap, this session focuses on what kind of roles law and legal governance perform in sustainable transitions in the climate, energy and environmental systems. In particular, the session welcomes contributions that connect legal research with transitions research, and address the interplay and dynamics between law and sustainability transitions and the broader societal transformation. The presentations may focus on international, European, regional or national questions.

Conveners: Dr Kaisa Huhta (CCEEL, University of Eastern Finland), Dr Niko Soininen (University of Eastern Finland), Dr Seita Romppanen (SYKE), Dr Antti Belinskij (SYKE) 

Partner Institutions: The UEF Centre for Climate Change, Energy and Environmental Law (CCEEL) and the Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE)


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This session will provide a platform for knowledge sharing and promoting academic excellence regarding disruptive innovations/technologies and methods that support sustainable development in different areas of food systems.  

Description: The current architecture of food systems is mainly based on non-renewable resources, which can lead to many critical global issues such as loss of biodiversity, climate change, and overall resource depletion (i.e., energy, nutrients, water, soil, and land). Meanwhile, about 750 million people suffer from severe levels of food insecurity, and many more are malnourished and/or obese. More than 30% of global food produced for human consumption gets lost or wasted annually. It is evident that a transition from the current whole food system to a more efficient, healthier, equal, and consumer- and environment-centered food system is necessary. This transition, however, should be supported and encouraged globally by common policies.

In this session, we will focus on new solutions and/or approaches that enhance the sustainable transition of food systems, including production, processing, storage, packaging, marketing, distribution, consumption, consumers, recycling, and disposal. Additionally, we will discuss  how to measure the environmental sustainability or more holistic sustainability of food production and consumption. Specifically, this session will include the following subtopics and themes: 

1) Food, agriculture and environmental policies and their integration

2) Food design and production technologies and methods

3) Environmental footprinting of food system and products

4) Food distribution chain

5) Food security, storage, and safety

6) Food packaging

7) Nutrition and diet

8) Food and consumer experience and choices

9) Food waste minimization and valorization

10) Holistic sustainability of the food systems 

Conveners: Dr. Thao Minh Ho (University of Helsinki), Associate professor Kirsi S. Mikkonen (University of Helsinki), Dr. Fabio Valoppi (University of Helsinki), Senior Scientist Juha-Matti Katajajuuri (Natural Resources Institute Finland (LUKE))


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From extreme weather events to psychosocial distress, climate change poses different types of risks to societies, communities and individuals. Civil society – NGOs, humanitarian organizations, activists and others – plays an important role in disaster preparedness and crisis resilience. In this session, we look for effective ways for the academic community and civil society to co-design research-based solutions for supporting climate safety. The workshop consists of an expert introduction followed by a group-work with scenarios related to climate safety. 

We invite researchers of different disciplines, practitioners, students and specialized volunteers to participate in the workshop. We aim to identify synergies, challenges, good practices and new ideas related to climate safety in order to create structures that support collaboration between researchers and civil society in the future. 

Description: Workshop: Climate Safety, Research and Civil Society

Climate change poses direct risks, indirect risks and transition risks to societies, communities and individuals. It affects social and cultural issues, health and psychosocial well-being. Civil society – NGOs, humanitarian organizations, activists and others – plays an important role in disaster preparedness and crisis resilience.

In this session, we discuss how climate safety can be improved for civil society and by civil society in the future. We look for effective ways for the academic community and civil society actors to co-design research-based solutions for supporting climate safety.

This mini-workshop consists of an expert introduction followed by a group-work with scenarios related to climate safety. We invite researchers of different disciplines, practitioners, students and specialized volunteers to participate in the workshop. We adopt a transdisciplinary, innovative use of the term safe climate. Possible approaches to climate safety in the context of research and civil society include:

  • mapping out connections between comprehensive climate security and civil society,
  • human security,
  • health and social wellbeing,
  • effects on livelihood and migration,
  • conflict and peacebuilding, 
  • (social) innovations that support climate safety,
  • use of scientific data in supporting climate safety,
  • gender perspectives on climate safety, 
  • indigenous and minority perspectives on climate safety,
  • improving psychosocial safety and wellbeing in the context of climate change,
  • creating a safer, more inclusive space for societal discussion on climate change,
  • and others.

We aim to identify synergies, challenges, good practices and new ideas related to climate safety in order to create systemic change in the form of structures that support collaboration between researchers and civil society in the future.

Participating in this session does not require a scientific abstract. Instead, participants are expected to send a short overview on their expertise, approach and motivation. No other preparation is necessary. Session conveners will make the final selection of participants. 

Conveners: Rosa Rantanen (University of Helsinki); Emma Hakala (Finnish Institute for International Affairs)


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Sustainability research mostly concerns systems. Yet, the field rarely reflects on the multitude of ways that systems can be understood and studied. In this session we take stock of the variety of systems theories and methods, as well as their implications for sustainability research.

Description: Systems thinking and systems science focus on relationships between things and wholes as formed by parts. There is increasing demand for a systems perspective to sustainability and transitions issues from both governance and within the academic community. Much of academic education and the science-policy interface is however designed with a priority on particularities and precision at the expense of understanding wholes. In this session we intend to learn about how sustainability scientists can produce and communicate knowledge about systems.

Sustainability science stands to benefit from insights from systems science and its discussion of systems methods.

The scholarly tradition of systems science may be traced to the post-war cybernetics community. The field has historically been interdisciplinary, transferring knowledge and principles across disciplines such as ecology, biology, engineering and organizational studies among others. Over the decades this scientific community has developed a wide range of methods including computational modelling, qualitative mapping and critical boundary analysis. Systems thinking approaches - or analogous cognitive modes - are however also applied in the arts, in traditional knowledge systems and everyday heuristics or common-sense thought. 

This session welcomes insights from researchers who work on sustainability topics with a focus on systems or on implications of systems thinking for sustainability research. Such background need not have been explicitly labelled systems science to be valuable to this session.

Conveners: Henri Wiman (Technology Research Centre VTT and HELSUS), Milutin Stojanovic (University of Helsinki), Michiru Nagatsu (University of Helsinki)


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Climate policies in the housing sector may cause adverse effects by increasing energy poverty, environmental inequality and segregation. Finding sustainability-driven solutions is needed at different levels and locations.

Description: Housing and construction represent approximately 30% of total GHG emissions and 40% of total energy use in the European Union. Decarbonization of the building stock requires substantial increases in investments in energy efficiency, use of renewable energy sources, higher renovation rates and uptake of carbon embodied building materials, such as wood. In parallel to the global climate challenge, there is a rising social and spatial polarization both in urban and rural contexts. Climate policies in the housing sector may also cause adverse effects by increasing energy poverty, environmental inequality and segregation. Together these challenges affect the future environmental and social performance of actors in the built environment, and affect the viability of just transition at household, municipal and industry level. Our session addresses, but is not limited to, the following questions: What examples can be found on holistic sustainability-driven practices (encompassing both environmental and social aspects) in the built environment?  How can sustainability-driven solutions (technological, social) be diffused? How do different transdisciplinary approaches (experiments, pilots, innovations) generate capacity for actors to recreate new practices toward sustainable change? How is energy poverty and environmental inequality manifested in the built environment sector? 

While focusing on intertwined climate and societal challenges in Finland, the session provides a lively interaction forum among academia, construction sector businesses, intermediaries, and policy makers. Interaction and knowledge co-creation are cross-cutting ways of our working mode to accelerate sustainability transition in the built environment, as well as sharing insights in international communities of knowledge.

Conveners: Anne Toppinen (University of Helsinki), Katja Lahtinen (Natural Resources Finland), Seppo Junnila (Aalto University), Sanna Ala-Mantila (University of Helsinki)


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Sessions 10-13

Join us on a discussion platform for different stakeholder-perspectives, going beyond academia! We invite NGOs, government and industry representatives to come forward with novel solutions and perspectives for rethinking sustainability for seafood, as we see the need for systematic transformation in global fisheries – hence our call for novel technological and organizational perspectives!

Description: In line with the holistic thinking underlying the SSD22 Systemic Transformations to Sustainable Futures, this session aims to provide a constructive and diverse discussion platform for different stakeholder-perspectives, going beyond academia. Hence, we invite NGOs, government and industry representatives to come forward with novel solutions and perspectives.

The sustainability of our seas is an obvious issue, not least in light of the increasing dependence on fish imports of many developed economies, including Finland (Polka, 2018; Saarni 2021). Yet in spite of knowledge about the associated increasing displacement of environmental and social sustainability impacts via imported fish (Helvey et al, 2017; Scott, 2020; Xu et al. 2020) and the global threat of fishing at biologically unsustainable levels (UN, 2021), we are missing novel, interdisciplinary (McKuin et al. 2021) and inter-connected technological and organisational perspectives that address the sustainability issues systematically, instead of taking narrow life-cycle-assessment approaches (Vauterin et al. 2021). The theme of this session calls for such solutions, drawing from global experiences and inviting comparative perspectives. These could include carbon footprint or social footprint assessments, and relate these to technological, social and/ or organizational innovations, drawing from multiple disciplinary perspectives while focusing on co-creation efforts for sustainability transformations. Thereby, this session aims to expand the reach and impact of HELSUS’s research theme “consumption and production”, as relates to Sustainable Development Goal 14 - Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources (UN, 2021).

Conveners: Philipp Kanstinger (WWF Germany), Bodo Steiner (University of Helsinki), Stephen Stohs (NOAA), Fredrik Salenius (University of Helsinki)


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Helvey, M., Pomeroy, C., Pradhan, N.C., Squires, D. and Stohs, S., 2017. Can the United States have its fish and eat it too?. Marine Policy, 75, pp.62-67.

McKuin, B., Watson, J. T., Stohs, S., & Campbell, J. E. (2021). Rethinking sustainability in seafood: Synergies and trade-offs between fisheries and climate change. Elem Sci Anth, 9(1), 00081.

Polka, P., et al. (2018). Examples of fish consumption habits in Finland, Hanken School of Economics, Report,

Saarni, K. (2021). Fish market and fish consumption. Luke.

Scott, J. (2020). Reducing the European Union’s environmental footprint through ‘territorial extension’. In Sustainability and Law (pp. 65-85). Springer, Cham.

Xu, Z., Li, Y., Chau, S. N., Dietz, T., Li, C., Wan, L., ... & Liu, J. (2020). Impacts of international trade on global sustainable development. Nature Sustainability, 3(11), 964-971.

UN (2021). United Nations World Tuna Day 2 May.

Vauterin, A., Steiner, B., Sillman, J., & Kahiluoto, H. (2021). The potential of insect protein to reduce food-based carbon footprints in Europe: The case of broiler meat production. Journal of Cleaner Production, 320, 128799.

We need systemic change towards sustainable ways of living, working and doing business. In this session, we focus on the role of active agents to promote that change.  

Description: There is a need for societies across the globe to undertake systemic change toward sustainable ways of living, working and doing business (Dyllick & Muff, 2015; Loorbach et al. 2017). For sustainability transitions to succeed, the proactive role of actors is critical (Geels 2002; Koistinen et al. 2020). Sustainability agency refers to intentional, proactive individual or collective level action geared toward sustainable futures, also involving non-material forms of agency (Teerikangas et al. 2021).  

In this track, we seek to appreciate how individual, collective, organizational, and collaborative forms of agency facilitate or hinder sustainability transitions. We welcome submissions cutting across theoretical bases and phenomena focused on sustainability agency. Submissions can be review papers or empirical papers, focused on: 

  1. Individual level sustainability agency by studying managers, CSR professionals, employees or consumers as sustainability actors.  
  1. Forms of activist agency, which can be undertaken via institutional work, social or environmental entrepreneurship, social movements, and various forms of activism.  
  1. Relational agency, be it related to stakeholder engagement, cross-sector partnerships, ecosystems, mergers and acquisitions, or sectors such as construction, which illustrate situations where sustainability agency occurs in collaboration with others. 
  1. Organizational level sustainability agency, be it transnational organizations, governments, regions, cities, firms or public sector organizations.   

Conveners: Dr. Marileena Mäkelä (University of Jyväskylä) Dr. Katariina Koistinen (University of Turku), Prof. Satu Teerikangas (University of Turku), Assoc. prof. Tiina Onkila (University of Jyväskylä)


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Dyllick, T., & Muff, K. (2015), ‘Clarifying the meaning of sustainable business: Introducing a typology from business-as-usual to true business sustainability’, Organization & Environment, 29 (2), 156–174.

Geels, F. (2011), ‘The multi-level perspective on sustainability transitions: Responses to seven criticisms’, Environmental Innovation and Societal Transitions, 1, 24–40.

Koistinen, K., Teerikangas, S., Mikkilä, M., & Linnanen, L. (2020), ‘Active sustainability actors: A life course approach’, Sustainable Development, 28, 208–223.

Loorbach, D., Frantzeskaki, N., & Avelino, F. (2017), ‘Sustainability transitions research: Transforming science and practice for societal change’, Annual Review of Environment and Resources, 42, 599–626.

Teerikangs, S., Onkila, T., Koistinen, K., & Mäkelä, M. (2021), ’Research Handbook of Sustainability Agency’, Edward Elgar Publishing, Cheltenham, UK.

This session focuses on research on sustainability-related transformation from the view of transformative learning, teaching, actions and practices and invites theoretical and empirical studies from a broad higher education context. 

Description: The role of Higher Education Institutions is to develop sustainable research and educate students on how to deal with wicked problems like global inequality, pandemic threats, and ecological and social climate change dilemmas. One way towards sustainability is to apply a ‘whole-institution approach’ and be authentic in policy, leadership and all other actionacting. Another way is to build solid knowledge networks with partners and stakeholders outside academia. A third way is to empower students and engage them as active,critical and reflective co-learners and co-teachers in a mutual learning/teaching process. These three ways are all interrelated in the transition towards sustainability. Yet, the third option relates closest to transformative learning.

Transformative learning is a  frequent concept in contemporary sustainability transition discourses. The UNESCO document Education for Sustainable Development Goals: Learning objectives (2017), emphasizes transformation and transformative learning as fundamental to achieving sustainable development goals. In this document action-orientation, self-directed learning, participation, collaboration, problem-orientation, inter- and transdisciplinarity, and especially transformation are all seen as central. 

In many decades, transformative learning has been a significant adult learning approach that has remarkably changed the view of adult learning. Jack Mezirow spent most of his career developing transformative learning. According to Mezirow, learning is a process in which the learners transform problematic frames of reference. The aim of transformative learning is to make these frames reflective, and open for change. Numerous other scholars have tested, developed, and modified Mezirow’s theory to suit various contexts. Therefore, transformative learning now focuses on learning that is holistic, extra rational, integrative, embodied, intuitive, and/or social. There are a number of approaches to the topic ranging from depth psychology, humanism, post-structuralism, or post-humanism,  along with discussions about whether or not transformative learning is rational or extra-rational, imaginative, cognitive or emotional, individual or social. 

Sustainability-oriented transformation relates to ethics, ontology, epistemology and praxis, and asks for value and worldview deliberations, individual and collective commitment, as well as collaborative, transdisciplinary approaches to knowledge, learning and practice. Even if transformative learning is a possible sustainability learning approach, it is a most demanding and complicated theory. Therefore, transformative learning requires continuous theory development and attesting of methods that allow for co-creation and re-creation of spaces, thoughts and power relations with critical questioning of current dominant ideologies and envisioning of alternative futures. To fulfill the demands of sustainability, transformative learning has to be advanced, tried out, and evaluated meticulously.

Conveners: Lili-Ann Wolff, Marianna Vivitsou, Noora Jaakkola, Saiki Cheah, Antti Laherto (University of Helsinki); Tuuli Mattelmäki, Kirsi Hakio, Meeri Karvinen (Aalto University); Mervi Friman (Häme University of Applied Sciences); Marco Rieckmann (University of Vechta)


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This session convenes around an urgent necessity of building up effective and acceptable ways of contributing to the removal of atmospheric CO2. The workshop draws from the ideas of sustainability science of turning towards and addressing grand systemic challenges. 


For several centuries, humans have excelled in mobilising fossil fuel reserves and converting them to atmospheric CO2. The current state of climate emergency and the need for deep-reaching societal and metabolic transformations calls for a reversal of this logic: large-scale, effective and even profitable ways of drawing carbon down from the atmosphere. This track invites papers that address all processes, mechanisms, designs and economic models in which carbon in captured through plant biomass and sequestered. 

Relevant questions and topic include but are not limited to 

  • the cycles of carbon in forests, agricultural land and urban green areas 

  • processes of treating streams of organic material to produce biochar and other stable carbon products and compounds 

  • transformations of the forest industry to propel carbon drawdown 

  • qualities and the use of biochar in different applications 

  • economics, business models and regulation of carbon drawdown 

  • systemic mapping of potential of and conditions for large-scale carbon drawdown in different geographical context and sectors of human activity

Conveners: Mikko Jalas (Aalto University) & Priit Tammeorg (University of Helsinki)


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Sessions 14-17

In this session, we explore the role of science panels in the transition towards sustainable futures. The session aims to critically examine the role of science panels as mobilisers of societal agency, and as such engage with critical questions, including: Are the science panels effective in translating science-based knowledge to the society? Or do they merely act as legitimisers of government authority?

This session presents various models/practices that science panels have taken to mobilise future oriented systems transformation and critically analyse them from the perspective of agency throughout society and in different sectors in education, policy making, civil society, including innovative experiments.

Description: When mobilising a future oriented systems transformation with its complexities and insecurities, the role of science has been seen as crucial.  Science panels have become a key element of science-policy and science-based decision making in Finland and more broadly in the world. Different panels are set with diverse mandates and objectives, but also with varying target groups and practices to bring support to decision making as a part of systemic transformation.  

This session presents various models/practices the panels have taken to mobilise future oriented systems transformation and critically analyse them from the perspective of agency throughout society and in different sectors in education, policy making, and civil society, including innovative experiments. Furthermore, the session identifies the critical means and resources (human, financial and science-based) to carry out these tasks taking into account the inclusion perspective, as well as position between science, policy and society. The role of science-based knowledge is put into a wider perspective, taking into account the challenges and opportunities introduced by rapid changes of information and communication technologies, different polarisations of societal debates and the use of different means of communication and interaction.

Conveners: Members of the Finnish Expert Panel for Sustainable Development: Prof. Eeva Furman (Finnish Environment Institute, SYKE) Prof. Minna Halme (Aalto University), Prof. Jouni Jaakkola (University of Oulu), Prof. Lassi Linnanen (LUT University), Prof. Mikko Mönkkönen (University of Jyväskylä), Prof. Juho Saari (University of Tampere), Prof. Arto O. Salonen (University of Eastern Finland), Prof. Katriina Siivonen (University of Turku), Prof. Tuuli Toivonen (University of Helsinki), Prof. Anne Tolvanen (Luke)


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The aim of this session is to discuss existing and potential sustainability solutions, and how these could, in principle, serve and/or partly reconcile different economic paradigms (growth, postgrowth), thus acting as concrete vehicles to foster sustainability.

Description: The Sustainable Development Goals, along with ancillary regional and national political processes such as the European Union Green Deal (2021), provide goal setting towards a more sustainable future. The aim of this session is to discuss existing and potential sustainability solutions, and how these could, in principle, serve and/or partly reconcile different economic paradigms (growth, postgrowth), thus acting as concrete vehicles to foster sustainability. 

We define solutions as innovations of social, ecological, technological or other nature aimed at reforming the use and distribution of natural resources in economic systems. Examples are product modular design and product longevity, abiotic energy, plant-based and biomass-based alternatives to meat and fossil resources, sufficiency and sharing, servitization and digitalization, biodiversity-based solutions and biotechnology. 

Solutions are adopted (or rejected) by multiple societal actors who hold diverse worldviews and agendas, including public administrations, large companies, small and medium enterprises, non-governmental organizations, think tanks, NGOs, citizens and consumers.

Questions to be discussed during the session include:

  • What are the solutions packages needed to implement change, also beyond the goal setting currently envisioned at global policy-level?
  • Are solutions incremental improvements or radical changes?
  • How do solutions remain niche or emerge more widely in the public discourse, and which actors are supposed to contribute to implement solutions?
  • Is there a divergence between the political emphasis put on solution types and their social acceptability or desirability?
  • What are the conceptual and technical limitations of solutions (including synergies and trade-offs across solutions) that hamper systemic net sustainability?

Conveners: Dalia D’amato (University of Helsinki), Angelina Korsunova-Tsaruk (University of Helsinki), Petteri Repo (Aalto University and University of Helsinki)


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D’Amato, D. 2021. Sustainability narratives as Transformative Solution Pathways: Zooming in on the Circular Economy. Circular Economy and Sustainability 1, 231-242.

Goodman, J., Korsunova, A., Halme, M., 2017. Our Collaborative Future: Activities and Roles of Stakeholders in Sustainability-Oriented Innovation. Bus. Strateg. Environ. 26, 731-753. 

Mykkänen, J., & Repo, P. (2021). Consumer perspectives on arranging circular economy in Finland. Sustainability: Science, Practice, & Policy 17(1), 349-361.

Schröder, P., Bengtsson, M., Cohen, M., Dewick, P., Hofstetter, J., Sarkis, J. 2019. Degrowth within – Aligning circular economy and strong sustainability narratives. Resources, Conservation and Recycling 146, 190-191,

Vivien, F.D., Nieddu, M., Befort, N., Debref, R., Giampietro, M., 2019. The Hijacking of the Bioeconomy. Ecol. Econ. 159, 189-197. 

With the current interest in building resilience and agency in order to create more socially and ecologically sustainable futures, increasing attention is given to the ways of bringing forth and combining different forms of knowing. This includes the integration of culturally specific traditional knowledge, futures-oriented thinking of Indigenous Peoples, and many other either alternative or new forms of promoting sustainable futures. In this session, our aim is to strengthen the multi-voiced debate and understanding of alternative futures for the benefit of improved individual, organisational, or societal readiness and adaptability to change. 

Description: Over the past few years, increasing global interest in, and research of traditional knowledge have emerged in the context of building a more sustainable relationship with nature. However, especially the culturally specific narratives related to Indigenous perspectives are often either misleadingly interpreted or completely ignored. New ways of thinking are needed about how to use Indigenous knowledge as a tool and a body of knowledge to widen the basis of sustainability research (Cajete, 2020).  

Most importantly, there is a growing need to broaden the debate in order to imagine and work toward more ecologically and socially sustainable futures (Joutsenvirta and Salonen, 2020; Vataja and Dufva, 2021). Besides collecting impactful research-based knowledge, we need to strengthen the opportunities and conditions (i.e., skills and competences) so that we can learn from each other ways in which more resilient and effective futures-oriented action can take place.  

In this session, our interest lies in the different forms of traditional/Indigenous/alternative knowledge and insight that have gained less visibility in the past but could support the co-creation of more sustainable and inclusive futures in significant ways. With Indigenous knowledge, we refer to its definition as the "understandings, skills, and philosophies developed by local communities with long histories and experiences of interaction with their natural surroundings", initiated by UNESCO's programme on Local and Indigenous Knowledge Systems (Hiwasaki et al., 2014).  

With the aim to enhance the awareness, inclusion, and impactful implementation of local and Indigenous knowledge in accelerating this transformation, we welcome papers with topics related to the traditional knowledge of different cultures, futures-oriented thinking among Indigenous Peoples, and the new forms of sustainable development with a non-western focus. In particular, the session will spark a debate on the following issues: 

Who owns our environment? What about the future? Whose voices are not being heard? How can we enable and support dialogues between different ways of understanding the world as well as the future? What forms and powers of resilience do less heard groups possess in regards to their specific knowledge and insight? How could the scientific community learn from the previously overlooked knowledge in terms of individual, organisational, or societal readiness and adaptability to change? And finally, how do these worldviews and understandings relate to the current literature on futures literacy and anticipation (Miller, 2018)?

Conveners: Sanna Ketonen-Oksi (Laurea University of Applied Sciences), Hazel Salminen (Finland Futures Research Centre, University of Turku and the Finnish Society for Futures Studies)


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Tackling the challenges of urban greening and introducing mainstreaming solutions that reach beyond pilot projects. 

Description: Green urban spaces and solutions are crucially needed for our health and well-being, tackling biodiversity crisis, and building resilience to climate change. Although the role of urban green has been recognized in the scientific community and society, many questions remain. Moreover, the scale of greening efforts is far from sufficient to match the challenge.   

Many cities in Finland and abroad have made efforts to enhance urban greening, such as conducting pilot projects for green walls and water retention. Yet, despite good intentions, “green” solutions can turn out to be unsustainable, for example requiring high maintenance. New green structures may also host unwanted nonhumans, often labeled as weeds, pests or harmful invasive species. Hard choices but also win-win solutions - e.g., about densification, urban sprawl, brownfield areas, or conservation - are made in urban planning.  

We invite scholars and practitioners to discuss the challenges of urban greening and to introduce mainstreaming solutions that reach beyond pilot projects. We welcome contributions from various perspectives - such as green architecture, community living and well-being, policy and planning, ecology, human behaviour, and urban activism - identifying key structures, actors, processes and even radical ideas that can facilitate urban green transformation. 

Conveners: Nina Nygren (Tampere University), Tytti Pasanen (THL), Ilona Steiler (Tampere University), Antero Hirvensalo (Tampere University), Sofie Pelsmakers (Tampere University), Helena Leino (Tampere University)


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Sessions 18-21

Deterioration of cultural landscapes and seascapes is a global threat for biodiversity and human well-being. This session explores how this alarming change can be intervened, to enable a just transformation to sustainability. 

Description: Cultural landscapes and seascapes are complex and dynamic social-ecological systems. Yet, many of them face rapid simplifications due to socio-economic drivers of change (López et al. 2015). Deterioration of cultural land-/seascapes threatens both biodiversity and human well-being globally, eroding important values and rural livelihoods. People’s nature connectedness, relational values, and many of nature's contributions to people are eroding as traditional practises of land and sea use are abandoned and often replaced by industrialised practices (e.g., Raatikainen & Barron 2017, Cortés-Capano et al. 2020, Riechers et al. 2020).  

This session asks which interventions targeting deep leverage points could enable just transformations to sustainability in cultural land-/seascapes, and how these possible pathways of change can be analysed in a holistic manner. Focus on leverage points – strategic places in a system where interventions can bring about major change – gives insight on four key priorities for sustainability (sensu Fischer & Riechers 2019). These priorities include: 1) linking policy targets to tangible actions and vice versa; 2) discussing and, possibly, challenging deeply entrenched beliefs and worldviews that guide individual and collective action; 3) understanding what kinds of interventions actually work for sustainability transformation; and 4) supporting the joint knowledge-building around sustainability through involving different stakeholders. These four priorities can be targeted through the leverage points perspective, and they function as an umbrella for our session. We wish session participants to reflect on at least one of the four key priorities within their presentation. 

We encourage contributions from various continents, and those that include a diversity of social-ecological contexts and a wide range of perspectives on sustainability. 

Presentations can include: 

  • Case studies on sustainability transformations in cultural land-/seascapes; 
  • Evidence on chains of leverage in system transformation, including linkages between shallower and deeper leverage points and path dependencies in cultural land-/seascape systems; 
  • Relational thinking and relational turn in sustainability; 
  • Conceptions of well-being in cultural land-/seascapes; 
  • Need for an ontological shift in sustainability research: are we progressing from analyses on complex systems to relational paradigm? (Will be discussed in a concluding panel.)

Conveners: Kaisa Raatikainen (University of Jyväskylä), Maraja Riechers (Leuphana University Lüneburg), Gonzalo Cortés-Capano (University of Jyväskylä) 


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Cortés‐Capano, G., Toivonen, T., Soutullo, A., Fernández, A., Dimitriadis, C., Garibotto‐Carton, G., and Di Minin, E. 2020. Exploring landowners' perceptions, motivations and needs for voluntary conservation in a cultural landscape. People and Nature 2: 840-855. 

Fischer, J., and M. Riechers. 2019. A leverage points perspective on sustainability. People and Nature 1: 115–120. 

López, F., C. Michaelis, S. Okayasu, K. Ichikawa, A. Kawai, C. Manago, and W. Dunbar. 2015. Generating collective knowledge on the conservation, management and sustainable use of socio-ecological production landscapes and seascapes - A summary of a review of 80 case studies under the International Partnership for the Satoyama Initiative (IPSI). 

Raatikainen, K. J., and E. S. Barron. 2017. Current agri-environmental policies dismiss varied perceptions and discourses on management of traditional rural biotopes. Land Use Policy 69: 564–576. 

Riechers, M., Á. Balázsi, D. J. Abson, and J. Fischer. 2020. The influence of landscape change on multiple dimensions of human-nature connectedness. Ecology and Society 25: art3. 

How should rapid and systemic socio-ecological transformations be planned? What is the role of planning in economic, industrial, or environmental policies in a rapidly warming world? This session aims at understanding what role planning should have in systematic transformations, particularly in initiatives such as mission-oriented economy, green industrial policy, green new deal, and ecological reconstruction. 

Description: Mission-oriented economy (Mazzucato 2021), green industrial policy (Rodrik 2014), green new deal (e.g., Mastini, Kallis & Hickel 2021) and ecological reconstruction (BIOS 2019) are recent conceptualisations of how to steer societies and economies to sustainable futures. These conceptualisations highlight the crucial role of the state in governing the needed systemic transformation to tackle the great ecological – and to varying extent also social – problems of the fossil-fueled era. Each in their own way, they also question market-oriented pathways to sustainability. However, what is underdeveloped in each of these conceptualisations is the notion of planning. What is planning for a systemic transformation? How can societies plan for the transformation? Who can do the planning and how? How can plans be used in governance and in business? What role should planning have in economic and industrial policies? 

We welcome both theoretical and empirical studies. Presentations can explore, for example, planning in various institutional and spatial contexts (e.g., state, municipalities, industries, and international and national economic institutions) and provide academic and practical ideas, critiques and alternative viewpoints on the conceptualisations mentioned above.  

Conveners: Tero Toivanen (Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies), Paavo Järvensivu (BIOS Research Unit), Jussi T. Eronen (HELSUS)


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BIOS. 2021. Ecological reconstruction. Available at: 
Mastini, R., G. Kallis, and J. Hickel. 2021. A Green New Deal without growth? Ecological Economics, 179, 106832.
Mazzucato, M. 2021. Mission Economy: A Moonshot Guide to Changing Capitalism. Penguin UK. 
Rodrik, D. 2014. Green industrial policy. Oxford Review of Economic Policy, 30(3), 469–91.

Global climate and environmental changes require transformative solutions at a territorial level. This session aims to co-construct learnings on how to conduct such solutions, based on concrete experiences and case studies.  

Description: Global and local climate and environmental changes require urgent solutions. However, incremental solutions have not met the challenges and as a result new transformative pathways need to be devised. The study of transformations to pursue sustainability and climate action has gained increasing relevance in scholarship and practice. In particular, the ‘territorial’ dimension of transformations has garnered much interest, defying the technocratic, top-down and simplistic framing directed to the problem by more traditional approaches. This territorial turn has helped transformations research improve its understanding, among other things, on how multiple forms of simultaneous change interact, overlap, or influence each other; how these changes manifest across different environmental and social contexts, affecting social actors differently; and how can transformative solutions be designed such that they may better integrate justice and local or Indigenous knowledges and values. 

However, an integrative framework is still missing to understand how to concretely conduct territorial transformations. 

To answer this challenge, this session proposes a participatory dialogue aiming to leverage experiences from different sectors and places to discuss the following questions: How does transformation manifest in different contexts? What conditions and strategies can help build socially robust, collectively validated, and scalable research on sustainable territorial transformations? How can failures arise and how can this risk be avoided? 

We are looking for empirical examples and case studies which may offer insights for  research or practice of sustainable territorial transformations in different scales and contexts. Three complementing kinds of transformations will be considered in the session: a) enabling transformations, i.e., hands-on attempts at fostering cognitive, cultural or agential enablers for change and human action in local contexts and communities (e.g. Transformation/Transition Labs); b) systemic transformations, aiming to drive innovation, technological, economic and/or institutional change within a particular sector or domain (e.g., energy transitions); and, c) structural transformations, emphasizing deep and radical changes in the underlying forms of production and socio-political structures (e.g., circular economy). 

Examples and case studies will be welcomed to cover any of these kinds of transformation, or a combination thereof. Moreover, other avenues to transformations may be available which are not listed above: these would also be welcome. Cases and examples engaging with methodological pluralism, envisioning, scenario-building, experimentation and reflexivity will be particularly appreciated. 

Accepted speakers will be asked to briefly summarize their experience or case, to then discuss with other participants to extract cross-cutting strategies, best practices, and challenges, and lastly to advance an integrative reflection on territorial transformations.

Conveners: Cristina Zurbriggen (South American Institute for Resilience and Sustainability Studies (SARAS)), Marco Billi (Center for Climate and Resilience Research (CR)2)


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With references to Simon’s (1996) The Sciences of the Artificial, in which he differentiates sciences of what is and sciences of what ought to be, currently the urban ‘science of what is’ is clearly telling us that cities are unsustainable. Social, ecological and economic issues plague cities and are likely to worsen unless urban transformations across these domains can be enacted. Therefore, it can be said that urban sustainability science, in particular, needs to focus on what ought to be.

In this session we invite submissions that take an exploratory approach to urban sustainability research. In particular we are interested in those that use creative, participatory or experimental methods and focus on cultural shifts, knowledge integration, deep leverage points, as well as structural and value changes in our societal systems.

Conveners: Seona Candy (University of Helsinki) & Johanna Ylipulli (Aalto University)


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